The history of the Triumph Motor Company, one of the most prestigious and commercially successful UK car manufacturers of the Twentieth century, began in Germany in 1883 when a talented young engineer by the name of Siegfried Bettmann left his family home in the city of Nuremberg to seek his fortune in Great Britain in the rapidly developing cycle manufacturing industry.
With the UK a hotbed of opportunity in those days, the young Siegfried soon met up with a fellow German expatriate by the name of Mauritz Schulte, who was also looking to find his niche in the industry.
The pair decided to pool their talents, ambition and capital to establish a business to produce bicycles. Their new enterprise was based in the Midlands city of Coventry, at that time the centre of the UK bicycle industry.
Over the years,Triumph grew to become one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world.
Encouraged by their success with two-wheeled vehicles, Bettmann and Schulte decided that they would do twice as well with four-wheelers, investing heavily in acquiring Coventry based Dawson Car Company in 1921.
The first Triumph car, the 10/20, was launched in 1923. Despite the partner's high expectations, demand for the new model was slow, while critical appraisal was nowhere near as high as the Bettman and Schulte had hoped.
In very little time, the partners decided to make a rapid withdrawal from the vehicle manufacturing industry, putting the Triumph Motor Company up for sale.
In 1932 Healey was named technical director, with special responsibility for designing a new range of Triumph cars. Among the models that Healey put together for Triumph were the Southern Cross and later the Dolomite 8.
Triumph had a few owners in the Thirties, possibly the best known being Thos W Ward, owners of a massive Coventry based shipbreaking company. Ward must have thought that they had found the magic formula to pull the company out of the doldrums when he succeeded in convincing high-profile rally driver Donald Healey to join the company.
Healey, then only in his early Thirties, had already displayed talents and knowledge as a car designer beyond his years, althogh this was the first time he had been allowed to show what he could do at a company as large as Triumph.
Still a force to be reckoned with in the rally world, Healey displayed his talents and as well as the road holding and performance capacities he had brought to Triumph cars when he drove a straight-eight engined Triumph Gloria Southern Coss to take third place in the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally.
Despite Healey's efforts, Triumph were still not setting the heather on fire in the showrooms.
By the late Thirties, Ward were becoming increasingly disenchanted with the car manufacturing industry, deciding to cut their losses. After failing to find a buyer, they reluctantly allowed the company to be placed in receivership.
Production was put in mothballs during the war years, and the future looked bleak for Triumph when the Hollbrook Lane plant in Coventry was destroyed by bombing in 1940.With the company in a non-functioning state, Sir John Black, managing director of the Standard Motor Company, stepped in to acquire Triumph in 1944, fighting off intense competition from Jaguar.
It soon transpired that it was never Black's objective when he picked up the scraps of what once was the Triumph was simply to acquire the rights to use the name- which did carry considerable prestige and for which he paid a hefty sum.
With Standard Motors covering the entry level market, Black's vision for Triumph was evident- to compete with Jaguar in the potentially lucrative open topped tourer, sports tourer and luxury saloon sector.
The new company was known as the Standard/Triumph Group, with Black insisting that both companies would trade as separate entities.
Events would pan out differently, with Triumph eventually becoming the dominant partner, leading to the Standard brand being gradually phased out.
While many companies were still using pre-war designs, the 2+2 soft-top's design was decidedly post-war with enough space for two rear-seat passengers to sit in relative comfort.
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A guide to acquiring, restoring and maintaining UK or European Classic Cars of the Fifties and Sixties- as well as a recollection of the iconic cars of the era and the visionaries that produced them.
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